Habitat’s first high street store for 10 years opened its doors in Brighton on 8th November, and it has proved an instant hit with Sussex locals. On Saturday 10th when Retail Connections visited, the new flagship was jam-packed, and there was a tangible buzz of shopper enthusiasm in the air.
Everyone loved the 25% discount on all stock (including online) and wanted very badly to spend. The only drawback was the queues at the payment points.
Hand held devices
Although Habitat team members were dotted around the store with large hand-held tablets to access the Habitat website, there was no ability for mobile ordering, booking delivery of items, or making payment on the devices, or even the ability to forward on an order to the static EPoS terminal to complete a transaction. Pen and paper were needed to write down product numbers from the website to be taken to the tills.
All the ‘clienteling’ was happening at the checkout. One couple needed a bed, mattress and bedside cabinets – and wanted lots of advice from the excellent Habitat employee on the till for each product type, pricing, and delivery options – all with the patient queue behind them listening to proceedings.
Joined up approach needed
Opening weekend traffic into the branch was, of course, unusually high, and the store ordering and payment systems will not always be under such intense pressure. However there are fantastic opportunities here for connected store tech that could enable better customer experiences, and a reduction in lost sales. Nearly all of the brands doing clienteling well today (for instance Apple, Sephora) are leveraging technology to empower employees, connect the back-end systems, and streamline the purchase journey.
Bricks and mortar can do a great job of converting shoppers who want to see and touch before they buy, but to make entire web ranges accessible to order in a shop does require careful IT planning and investment. That said, Habitat’s faithful online shoppers are perfectly capable of experiencing the products in store, and then ordering later from home.
More about Habitat Brighton
The flagship is well positioned on busy North Street, and is ranged over two floors with space to showcase around 3,000 Habitat products. The launch of this branch has allowed Habitat fans the luxury of ‘trying before buying’, and the store really celebrates this with eye-catching displays of furniture, homewares and textiles within attractive room settings.
There are plans for innovative workshops and events, with local customers encouraged to sign up to emails and be the first to hear about news, information and offers. As part of the launch campaign, and in line with its design heritage, Habitat teamed up with Brighton artists to design limited edition rugs. The store is also running a scheme whereby customers can upload their designs with the chance of being selected for use on products.